KIRIKOU AND THE SORCERESS (1998)
a 1998 traditional animation feature film written and directed by Michel Ocelot. Drawn from elements of West African folk tales, it depicts how a newborn boy, Kirikou, saves his village from the evil witch Karaba. The film was originally released on December 9, 1998. It is a co-production between companies inFrance (Exposure, France 3 Cinema, Les Armateurs, Monipoly, Odec Kid Cartoons), Belgium (Radio-Television Belge) and Luxembourg (Studio O, Trans Europe Film) and animated at Rija Films’ studio in Latvia and Studio Exist in Hungary.
Why was it special?: GAVE PROMINENCE TO A CRIMINALLY UNDERUSED SOURCE OF MATERIAL
Ohh hell to the yes, this is another piece of animation that this month was absolutely made for. Not only that but this is one of those artsy movies that the snooty animation fans out there go absolutely gaga for. It’s artsy in that the backgrounds are very catching, the character designs are unique and reflective of the setting the movie takes place in, and the presentation as a whole is just an absolute feast for the senses.
Unlike most artsy films that are content to show off the art and animation and not much more, this is one of the rare exceptions that manages to strike a good balance between telling a story and showing off the art.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking, being that this is here and that it’s me talking about it you’re probably thinking, “he must have some sort of complain. He always has a complaint about everything.” Normally, I’d like to find a good balance between good and bad aspects, mostly bad because those are the funnest to make fun of but for once, I’ve got nothing but praise to give.
This 70 minute animated collaboration between French, Belgian, and Luxembourg studios that mixes many West African folk tales is positively special. I might be a little blinded by the fact that while I do like this movie very much, I also quite like what it represents.
I don’t have to tell you that there is a criminal lack of representation of African centric stories. With all the different countries, cultures, languages, cities, and tribes, many of us barely know anything about Africa, the continent, as a whole, let alone the stories, legends, myths, and tales.
This movie just gets me thinking that there are hundreds, if not thousands -maybe even more than that- of stories that we’ve never seen told before, in animation or any medium. Some of those stories have never even been written down, let alone released on a worldwide scale. For someone like me who loves writing, and loves to read, this just tickles my fancy in a way that would make me sound even more nerdy if I proceeded to over-explain it.
I gotta wrap this up.
It’s most definitely a must-see movie, and you’re cheating yourself if you don’t see it.
- the movie was so successful that it was followed by Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages, released in 2005, and adapted into a stage musical, Kirikou et Karaba, first performed in 2007. Another followup, Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes, was released in late 2012
- the film has been dubbed in French, English, Japanese, and Swahili
The film contains several instances of female nudity, and male nudity to a lesser extent, as would be the norm in pre-colonial Africa. This was controversial enough in the US to delay the film’s release there until 2002.
I’ve said all that needs to be said.
The entire movie is available on youtube.
You know what to do.